The role of local government and its cross-sectoral partners in financing and delivering a net-zero Scotland

Closed 26 Jan 2022

Opened 24 Nov 2021

Published responses

View submitted responses where consent has been given to publish the response.


The Net Zero, Energy and Transport Committee are examining progress towards Scotland’s net zero targets with a particular focus on the role of local government and its partners.

The Scottish Parliament agreed statutory targets to make Scotland a net zero nation by 2045, with challenging interim targets en route to that goal. “Net zero” means a situation where the amount of greenhouse gases we put into the atmosphere is balanced out by the amount of them that we take out. Increased greenhouse gases are a cause of climate change.

Our inquiry has a hands-on approach, looking at where the main barriers to reaching the interim and 2045 targets are, and what practical steps councils are taking to break them down, particularly with their key partners:

  • the private sector – both “big business” and SMEs (small or medium enterprises)
  • the voluntary sector and social enterprises
  • local communities and community organisations

We are keen to hear a wide range of views to help us with this work.

What does the Committee want to know?

Our inquiry examines the key role of local government and its cross-sectoral partners - the private and voluntary sectors, social enterprises, and local communities – in achieving progress towards net zero. It will focus in particular on the 2030 target of a 75% overall reduction in carbon emissions (against baselines set in 1990 and 1995).

We are also considering the role of the Scottish Government and public agencies as enablers of effective joint working between local government and its key partners.

Underpinning our focus is the consensus that we need to have a “just transition” to net zero: one that reduces rather than increases social and economic inequalities, and creates new opportunities.

With the inquiry covering a wide range of issues, the Committee agreed a number of questions and welcomed views on the following, including good real-life examples.

Council planning, decision-making and capacity in relation to net zero

  1. How effective are councils at strategic planning, budgeting, and making procurement decisions that align with net zero goals? If there are barriers, what are they?
  2. What role can the local government planning system and local development plans do to help us reach net zero? Could the planning system do more?
  3. What innovation, skills and capacity are needed in the local government workforce when it comes to making net zero achievable? Does that capacity exist or are there gaps?

Partnering to achieve net zero goals

  1. How well do councils leverage in support and finance from the private sector for net zero delivery? Are City Region Deals being used effectively for this? What mechanisms or forums are there for sharing opportunities and good practice?
  2. How well do councils partner with the voluntary sector and social enterprises to work towards net zero goals? Are there instances of good practice you can point to or areas where opportunities are being missed?
  3. How well do councils involve local communities in decision-making on major net zero projects and how do they support community-led initiatives?

Role of the Scottish Government and its agencies

  1. What is the Scottish Government doing to help the local government sector deliver on net zero goals? What, if anything, could it do more of to help the sector?
  2. What is the role of enterprise agencies or other public bodies as enablers of joint working on net zero goals by local government and its cross-sectoral partners?

Local government work on net zero in particular areas

  1. How are councils working with cross-sectoral partners to decarbonise heat in buildings and to ensure they have greater energy efficiency?  
  2. How are councils working with cross-sectoral partners to decarbonise transport (including encouraging active travel) and to improve air quality?
  3. How are councils working with cross-sectoral partners to promote recycling and a “circular economy”?
  4. How are councils working with cross-sectoral partners to use the natural environment (its “green infrastructure”) to achieve net zero targets?

What happens next

We want to hear as many informed views as possible, and to engage positively with councils, companies, SMEs, academia, voluntary organisations and grassroots groups. We are taking formal evidence at committee meetings in 2022. We also intend to make visits, seeing practical examples of how councils work with their partners to deliver net zero.

We will use the submissions from this call for views to inform our approach to evidence sessions and our engagement work in 2022. We aim to report to the Parliament in Spring 2022 and views expressed in response to this call for views could be used directly as evidence in our report.

The call for views closed on 26 January 2022 at midnight.


  • LGHP